Working from Home. Starting Up.

As a private tutor, I work largely from home. This was partially intentional, so that I could have children, run a home and earn extra income all at once, without inconveniencing anyone or harming my children, my family or myself. There are many things I’ve learned in the years I’ve worked as a private tutor. One of them is how to get it right. If you’re interested in working from home but uncertain as to how to manage it, read on.

I work here.

I work here.

The first question I’m sure you’d want to ask is “Why work from home at all?” Of course, there are many incentives to work in an office, such as more regular hours, social contact, promotion opportunities and the likes. But there are many perks to working from home as well.

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For starters, you often work your own hours. Want to sleep until 8am? Start work at 8.30 or 9.00. Want a Wednesday off? Have it off. Want to work all Sunday? Do as you please. This means you have more room to enjoy yourself too. You can do your phone-calls and emails in the morning, go for a walk or a swim or shopping in the afternoon and do your writing and book-keeping in the evening before going to bed.

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Next, it’s easier to work, especially if you don’t see your clients at home. Little risk of running late, little concern about messy hair or improper shoes. You can get your favourite coffee when you like and you know where the printer paper is. If you feel a little under the weather, your car breaks down or you missed breakfast, you can continue to arrange your day stress-free. You could even have a nap at lunch-time if you feel you need one.

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And, of course, working from home can earn you more money per hour, either because you’re being paid more, or because your overheads are low. Even if you’re on the same paycheck or working for the same company, the elimination of packed lunches, travel costs and potentially paying someone to keep your house in order means your income has been boosted. You could even use a from-home job to boost your income when you can only work part-time or when you’re studying.

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Of course, more per hour doesn’t necessarily mean more in total or even as much as you need. Sometimes you can work from home for a company, which will pay you a similar amount to the office version of the job, making the from-home option infinitely better. But working from home may also involve a customer-based paycheck, as with tutoring, art or writing. So how do you go about making your work from home earn you the money you need?

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The very first step is accountability and responsibility. Unlike in an office, you can rarely blame your own failures on other people. In an office, it’s perfectly possible you’ve been assigned too much work or too little work, been given a deadline that’s too early or too vague, been set to work with someone useless or who won’t let you do anything, etc. When working from home, you assign the work, you set the deadlines and you choose the co-workers and, to an extent, the clients. If an error is made, check in with the boss: what did you do to cause this problem? It’s important to understand that you’re the big manager here, so you need to think carefully about every decision you make. You need to plan ahead. Not just next week or next month. At least twelve months ahead. You can adjust your plans and long-term goals as you progress, but make sure to have these plans and goals to begin with. To wander directionless is to wind up anywhere.

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Now, let’s not worry about qualifications or interests to start off. You may hit lucky, but first and foremost you’re in this to make money. So you need to ask yourself: what from-home jobs can pay as much as I need? Not as in what ones could pay it if you’re lucky. Think of what ones provide what you need around 50% of the time, discounting abject failures (unless your plan is to become one). Don’t consider yourself beyond failure, but don’t set yourself up for it either. Think of whether these people set long-term goals, planned it out and gave in their all. If they did and over half the time they failed to meet your minimum required income, then perhaps you should reconsider.

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Narrow the work down to jobs that work in your area. You need to find that sweet-spot between “this work isn’t in demand here” and “I am flooded with competition”. You need customers, but you need a gap in the market.

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You also need to make sure there is a continual demand for this service or product. The other option is, of course, routine high spikes of demand. Either way, it needs to pay you well over the year. If you’re barely scraping the basics two months and the cash runs dry for a third before demand spikes, the demand had better be good. If the demand only recently appeared, it may quickly disappear. Monitor trends. Consider the possibility for repeat customers or being outcompeted. Ask yourself how to sell what you offer, sell it all year, get people coming back or recommending you and keep the demand high enough that any dry spells will not hurt you any.

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Don’t do anything yet. Don’t spend a penny or a cent.

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You now need to ask yourself if you could do this. Not if you can do it now, but simply if you could. You may need a qualification, a license, a vehicle, an office. If the demand and pay are good enough, these will be a mere investment. If it costs you £2000 to get a second-hand car and you can earn your basic income + £2000 in the first month or over the first three months, then you invested. From the third month that money becomes profit. Same goes for everything else. So, just ask yourself if you can do it. Can you meet the demand, manage the clients, sort the budget, get the qualifications and put in the actual man-power? Could you hire employees if the demand becomes too much to handle? Think about where you’d take it, how you’d deal with the ups and downs and whether you could deal with the pressures of being “the Man”. Finally, think about how much you’d enjoy or at least tolerate the work. If you’ll hate it and pray for freedom every day, then maybe you should look at something else. If you could live with it for the money, go for it.

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If you decide to go for it, now you have to acquire all the necessities. If you’re looking at selling something, you need to consider supply, demand, transport and stocking. If you’re looking at tutoring, you may simply need books and transport or you may need to consider sorting a room in your home into a classroom. Ask yourself what the components of your new job will be and make sure you have them. This includes advertising, paperwork, qualifications, transport and even sorting your taxes. Make a list.

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Now you’ve worked out what you need and made a list, work out the costs. Reassess. Consider how much time and money you’ll need to prepare. And yes, you’ll need to invest time and spend money before you’ve got a single client. Think of it as opening a store (this is a lot easier if you’re actually opening a store, but embrace the metaphor anyway): you need to have your shop front ready and your shelves stocked before you can sell. If you don’t have a shop front (qualifications, recommendations, location, etc) you don’t have anywhere or any way of selling. If you have nothing on your shelves (product or service), then however many customers come in won’t change the fact they can’t buy anything. If you don’t advertise yourself well, then you have no customers. Look at your list and get stocked up. Advertise when there are a few weeks before you can start. Book-in clients for the exact day you tell them you’ll start. Don’t start late. Allow time for if they’re late. Be the very embodiment of the Prussian Virtues.

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And remember to be proactive. Advertise. Call and email potential clients. Survey them. Get their honest opinion. Get them to sign their names down. Sell yourself and don’t take no for an answer. Nobody is going to sell for you. Nobody is more invested or more dedicated than you. Show this, at least to yourself.

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Prepare to be knocked back. There are ups and downs to everything. You have rejected the easy, reliable path of 9-to-5 salaried work. Don’t chicken out when it gets tough. Running out of clients? Advertise again. Running out of stock? Stock up. Running out of investment or returns too slow? Get the money from anywhere you can. If you’ve done this correctly, the ship will only sink if you let it. Don’t give up at the first sign of trouble. If there’s any doubt in your mind, ask yourself why this is. Your business is more likely to fail due to poor decisions or quitting than it is to fail due to random chance. If there is any way you can pick it up, then pick it up.

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But don’t assume it could never fail. You could get something wrong. You could find the pressure too much. Or random chance could sneak up on you after all. Consider what work you can return to, who you can rely on and where you can turn to if it all goes South. A man without an escape plan isn’t confident or serious. A man without an escape plan is unwise.

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And with that, I will leave you for now.

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TTFN and Happy Hunting.

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One thought on “Working from Home. Starting Up.

  1. Pingback: 5 Things I Did For Money In September. | Your Slaviswife Is Evolving

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